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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snacking It Up and Homemade Toasty Granola!

So, I don't know about you, but I am a snacker or a "grazer" as some people call it. I do enjoy my 3 main meals of the day, but I do need at least 2 snacks (sometimes 3) in between meals to keep my blood sugar from taking a dive and creating "crazy" Nicole. Do you know anyone who fights on the way to a restaurant? Well, that's me. If my blood sugar takes a dive, I am not a pleasant person to be around, much less dine with. So, I have found that snacking helps me to maintain my blood sugar and the more pleasant Nicoleness that most other people prefer.

The great thing about snacking, I find, is that it is a way for me to insert more fruits/vegetables into my day. Believe it or not, but the daily recommended intake of fruits/vegetables for anyone over the age of 2 years is 5-10 servings (a serving is a 1/2 cup of most fruits/veggies and 1 cup of leafy greens). I don't know about you, but before I became a health-conscious eater, I did not even come close to that amount. I got maybe 1-2 per day, and sometimes none! Now-a-days, I use my snacks to increase those fruits and veggies and give me a natural energy boost to keep me going through the day. The other things I like to incorporate into my snacking are proteins and whole grains. They keep me fuller longer and keep my blood sugar from spiking and crashing.

For pregnant ladies, keeping a steady blood sugar level and getting all of our fruits/veggies becomes even more important. The foods we eat are the basic building blocks for our baby's growing body. I would like to think I am growing my baby from whole, natural, vitamin-filled foods instead of artificial flavors and ingredients.

So, with our busy lives, what are some good snacks to eat throughout the day that boost our energy, keep us fuller longer, and give us so many of those vitamins and nutrients?
  • Celery or carrots with peanut/cashew/almond butter (add some raisins if you'd like)
  • Whole wheat pita with hummus and taboule
  • Leftover veggies warmed up from the night before (I LOVE a warm bowl of leftover squash)
  • Whole milk plain yogurt with granola, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and/or nuts
  • Handful of nuts or dried fruit or both (trail mix)
  • Banana/Apple with yogurt or peanut butter
  • Whole grain toast and peanut butter
  • Any piece of fruit (grapefruit, banana, apple, oranges, nectarines)...list is endless. Try to get fruit in season as it tastes better and brings you nutrients you need at the right time of year. Right about now, I am eating my share of grapefruits, tangerines, oranges, and pomegranates)
  • Cucumbers, tomatoes or any salad with oil based dressing
  • Whole wheat couscous or quinoa salads
  • Avocado smeared on whole wheat toast
  • Avocado sliced on tomatoes
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Homemade air-popped popcorn

The great thing about this list of snacks, is that they will translate into great snacks/meals for kids when they get into their toddler/preschool years. If you introduce them to these types of snacks at a young age (rather than the goldfish/cheerios types of snacks) they will begin with better eating habits and set up their little palettes with a taste for healthier, more natural foods.

Homemade Granola
I altered this recipe that was originally created by Sara Foster from Foster's Market. I love the sweeteners she uses and the shredded coconut. I prefer to cut the oil, changed some of the nuts and dried fruit she calls for, and cut the cooking time a bit because otherwise it came out too dark. My husband and son LOVE when I make granola and it makes a great snack that keeps for a while. So then, I can grab something quick and healthy when I am on the run. It is delicious on plain whole yogurt, on fresh fruit (like berries or bananas), or for a snack on the go.

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans
1 cup dried shredded coconut
1 tsp sea salt

1-2 tbs grape seed or expeller pressed canola oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins


  1. Bake the first 4 ingredients at 275 degrees for 10-12 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Place in large bowl.
  2. Mix oil, syrup and honey in a small bowl and pour over the baked oats and nuts and mix with wooden spoon.
  3. Spray the cookie sheet with olive oil.
  4. Spread oat mixture onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Stir while baking to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
  5. Pull it out of the oven and mix up. Add the cranberries and raisins. Mix up and break up the chunks while cooling.
  6. Once cooled put in air tight contain and store at room temp.


In health and wellness,


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